Zoning, more than just a tool: Explaining Houston's regulatory practice

Edwin Buitelaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The intent of this article is to understand why Houstonians reject zoning while simultaneously adopting a collection of mechanisms that serve zoning-type functions. The answer is found in discursive-institutionalist approaches that emphasize the symbolic meaning (besides the instrumental value) that people give to regulatory tools. Zoning as a label is generally associated with an interference with individual liberty. Apparently, the other interventionist instruments do not carry the same negative value, which makes it possible to implement them without much opposition. Discourses shape institutions, like planning regulations, and we need to unravel and to understand these processes in order to increase the performance of planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1065
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


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